Covid-19, Emergencies, Deportations and El Salvador as a ” Safe Third Country”

By Celia Medrano

It has transpired that El Salvador would receive this month the more than 2,000 migrants from other nationalities seeking asylum in the United States within the framework of the commitments known as the “safe third country”.

The deal was reportedly as a high-level meeting in Miami with Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf. However, within the emergency measures decreed by the Executive power, is it not considered a risk of reception of people referred from countries where cases of infection have already been reported?

The Salvadoran President affirmed on CBS that El Salvador was not ready to receive asylum seekers from other countries. That’s true, as it is also true that El Salvador should never have accepted a commitment of this nature when it does not even have the availability to adequately receive its own nationals deported or repatriated from other countries, much less to face a drastic increase in this number.

In 2018, 26,479 Salvadoran migrants returned to the country and on 2019 there have been 37,316, including 6,607 children and adolescents. An increase of 40.9%. Most repatriation / deportations come from the United States and Mexico, countries that have officially registered cases of coronavirus. More than 1,000 cases and 38 deaths from the virus have been confirmed in the United States, mainly in the States California, Texas, Washington and DC, where migrants are concentrated for deportation processes. Coronavirus is inevitable in US immigration centers, similar cases in prisons, and in border areas where migrants are concentrated.

Therefore, consideration must be given to including the suspension of deportations, repatriation and the reception of asylum seekers that the United States sends to El Salvador. Political agreements can be postponed and even undergo a more thorough review, weighing real capacities and considering whether they really benefit the country. Our neighbor Honduras has already received this week 3 deported Honduran youths who presented symptoms of contagion. It will also be important to review consular protection mechanisms to be activated in cases of Salvadorans in deportation processes in the United States and repatriation in Mexico who express well-founded fear of returning to the country because their life and integrity would be at risk.

According to official figures from the Guatemalan government, since November, more than
800 asylum seekers from El Salvador and Honduras have been sent to Guatemala under the
“Third safe country” agreement. Homeland Security (DHS) officials say that more than 71%
of migrants detained on the southern border of the United States in fiscal year 2019 were
from Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador.

More than 60 thousand migrants detained in the United States have been sent to cities like Tijuana under the “Stay in Mexico” program, a program in the process of being suspended by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

It is precisely because of this judicial blockade that the United States seeks to activate
Honduras and El Salvador to receive asylum seekers in their country who can no longer be
received in Mexico. In February of this year alone, more than 30,000 migrants were
detained at border points in northern Mexico for crossing into the United States without

If this rate of arrests continues and the number of asylum seekers already in
the United States continues to increase, we are talking about the fact that each of the three
countries in the northern triangle of Central America would be receiving 10,000 migrants
from Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico and other nationalities.

Celia Medrano. Photo MLNews.

No, we are not prepared to receive and provide decent and safe conditions for a number of
these dimensions. Much less facing an easily spreading pandemic where basic hygiene
measures to prevent themselves depend on access to clean water that many populations do
not have or strengthened and effective national health systems.

Panic and alarm by Coronavid-19 have spread more than the virus itself. We have not had
the same sensitivity when the death of 8 thousand children from hunger in the world has
passed before our eyes every day or that influenza, dengue, yellow fever and cholera, in
that order, have a higher lethality percentage than the coronavirus.

However, prevention is essential and measures must be taken at the initiative of the Executive branch. Should these measures be extended to suspend the reception of deportees, returnees and asylum
seekers within the framework of “safe third country” agreements? Yes, if it should be done,
and in addition to this, start the necessary coördination so that the governments where our
compatriots are located also guarantee the measures to serve them adequately and with
dignity as we overcome this new test as humanity.

The original version of this article can be found at the following link

About Ramón Jiménez

Ramón Jiménez, Managing Editor de MetroLatinoUSA.Com (MLN). Graduado de la Escuela de Periodismo de la Universidad del Distrito de Columbia (UDC). Email:

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